You think I’m kidding, right? That’s sweet, that you think I have to make shit like that up. No, I’m not going to even save it for a slow reveal. In this chapter, Christian Grey fucks Ana so hard she turns into a pirate. Not even a digital age pirate. Like, a straight out of Treasure Island pirate. Look, I even gave a nod to classical literature! This blog is just steps away from becoming a finalist in GoodReads.com‘s reader’s choice awards romance category.*
In our last foray into Grey, Christian had just learned that Ana is a virgin, and he reacted with all the grace and sensitivity you would expect from a man who stalks women and forces them to sign legally binding contracts before having sex with him. That is to say, none at all. He’s actually angry that Ana didn’t tell him soon (because being a twenty-one year old virgin is something to brag about in this day and age, am I right?). Now, he’s pacing around his home office, running both hands through his hair, like he’s been playing the stock market in 1929 and just realized this is a bad move. He’s mad because she knows about his sex dungeon, and she didn’t tell him about her virginity, which appears to genuinely disgust him. Of course, he never filled out a non-disclosure agreement with Ana, so why should she have to share all her secrets? How is he mad that she knows something she’s legally bound to never tell to another soul, but she hasn’t bared herself to him in a similar manner without that legal protection? I bet when Christian was a kid, he said, “That’s not fair!” in a really whiny voice a lot.
“And a nice young man hasn’t swept you off your feet? I just don’t understand. You’re twenty-one, nearly twenty-two. You’re beautiful.” He runs his hand through his hair again.
Beautiful. I flush with pleasure. Christian Grey thinks I’m beautiful. I knot my fingers together, staring at them hard, trying to conceal my goofy grin. Perhaps he’s near-sighted, my subconscious has reared her somnambulant head. Where was she when I needed her?
Listen, Ana, I’ve told you this several times. That’s not your subconscious. Your subconscious isn’t in charge of putting fully formed thoughts into your head in an easy to read format. Your subconscious is, however, probably the reason that you can’t say no to anyone, but you still think you’re operating under your own willpower. As for Christian Grey and his “nice young man” comment, I really think this whole thing would be more believable if he’d been written as a guy in his late fifties. I mean, come on, “nice young man?” And I’m not believing for an instant a twenty-seven year old bachelor millionaire who doesn’t have an Xbox. Never gonna happen.
Christian offers, very gallantly, to unburden her of her virginity.
“I thought you didn’t make love. I thought you fucked hard.” I swallow, my mouth suddenly dry.
He gives me a wicked grin, the effects of which travel all the way down there.
“I can make an exception, or maybe combine the two, we’ll see. I really want to make love to you. Please, come to bed with me. I want our arrangement to work, but you really need to have some idea what you’re getting yourself into. We can start your training tonight – with the basics. This doesn’t mean I’ve come over all hearts and flowers, it’s a means to an end, but one that I want, and hopefully you do, too.”
Oh, Christian, stop with your romantic talk, I’m falling in love with you already. There are so many times in this book that I’ve said, out loud, “Seriously?” This is one of those. A means to an end? How much paperwork is she going to have to fill out on this one? The romance in this scene is paralleled only by the unbridled eroticism, with Ana using such wicked terminology as “down there”. Someone quick, turn up the AC! Ana points out that she hasn’t said yes to any of the rules, and Christian decides he can make an exception to get some tail:
“Forget about the rules. Forget about all those details for tonight. I want you. I’ve wanted you since you fell into my office, and I know you want me. You wouldn’t be sitting here calmly discussing punishment and hard limits if you didn’t. Please, Ana, spend the night with me.”
Okay, if you want her so much that you can forget all the other stuff, then why is it an issue if she doesn’t want to play D/s with you? Since finding out about the sex dungeon, she’s thought of him as a freak and a monster, and she’s totally disappointed that he’s into this stuff. He’s even picked up on it. So, if you’re so into her, why can’t you enter into a relationship with her that doesn’t include those elements? Or at least, introduce those elements gradually, to see if she likes them? No? It has to be exactly the way you want it to be, all the time, because that’s your idea of what a “relationship” is? That’s healthy.
So, they’re going to have sex, just this one time, totally vanilla, to get rid of her pesky virginity. He says she’s “One brave young woman,” and that he’s in “awe” of her. Why is she brave? Because she’s having sex? Or because she’s going to be having that sex with you? Someone is awfully full of himself if he thinks that he’s so scary and intimidating.
Rather than have sex with her in the the room reserved specifically for that purpose, Chedward breaks his usual rigid self control and takes her to his bedroom.
The walls are white, and the furnishing are pale blue. The enormous bed is ultra modern, made of rough, grey wood, like driftwood, four posts, but no canopy. On the wall above it is a stunning portrait of the sea.
I don’t mean to pick nits (yes you do, Jen), but how is driftwood “ultra modern”?
I am quaking like a leaf. This is it. Finally, after all this time, I’m going to do it, with none other than Christian Grey.
FYI, if there are any typos or missing words in this post, it’s because I had to get an epic high on to get through this chapter. The moment I read “do it”, I was like, “Oh no,” and reached for the nearest available illegal substance. I am not kidding. I can’t get through a sex chapter sober if it’s going to be chock full of middle school euphemisms.
Of course, now I’m terrified that some angry 50 Shades fan is out there, scouring my books for middle school euphemisms, and wondering whether they’re going to find them. Damn this drug-induced paranoia!
Christian says that he wants to bite her lip again. If I had known how repetitive people biting or wanting to bite Ana’s lip was going to be, I would have added it to the drinking game. But I didn’t, and you’re still alive, so in a way, I saved your life. You’re welcome. Ana watches as Christian does the most anal retentive strip tease ever. He takes off his watch. He takes off his jacket. He takes off his shoes and socks, and apparently this methodical undressing is doing something to Ana, because she finds even his toes tantalizing (alliteration high five!).
They have the requisite conversation about birth control that’s factory stock in every romance, ever, these days. But props to my girl E.L., she switches it up quite a bit:
“I assume you’re not on the pill.”
“I didn’t think so.” He opens the top drawer of the chest and removes a packet of condoms.
If you’re a reader of contemporary romances, you’ll know how this scene usually goes. If the hero and heroine discuss birth control at all, they do so to show the reader why it’s okay for them to bareback it. The hero will suggest a condom, and the heroine will say, “It’s okay, I’m on the pill.” I always kind of think to myself, “Is it a pill that will prevent Chlamydia?”, but I can’t really talk, because I write a lot of unsafe sex. That’s because it’s fantasy and condoms suck in real life (I think we can all agree on that point) and also my characters boinking it raw are usually vampires or other magical creatures that can’t get STDs or worse, children. Here, E.L. James takes the common sense road by having her characters not argue their way into the Clap. Good job.
So, when Christian takes out the condoms, he says… hang on a second… I’m trying to get my serious face on, but it’s not working. He says, “Be prepared.”
I can hardly contain the riotous feelings or is it hormones that rampage through my body.
What? What did any of that even just mean?
Seeing him on his knees in front of me, feeling his mouth on me, it’s so unexpected,, and hot. My hands stay in his hair, pulling gently as I try to quiet my too-loud breathing.
Here’s another place where the Random House version and the original version differ. They caught that once the sex starts, the punctuation falls a-fucking-part, and they fixed that. Also, it looks like we might have a problem here. She’s into seeing him on his knees… uh oh! Maybe they’re both Doms. Shit, that just would not work out, right?
He puts his nose in her vulva and tells her how good she smells, right before he takes off her shoes and her socks and then licks her foot and nibbles on it. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care if you are Angelina Jolie, when you take your foot out of sneakers and socks, they are moist with a build up of perspiration, they probably don’t smell fresh, and they are going to be absolutely covered in sock lint. I cannot get that image out of my mind, a pale, sweaty foot with indentations from the shoe and sock lint all over it, and Chedward sucking on it. Hork. Seriously, hork. Then we reach the moment in the book that made my literally rant out loud for an hour about negative attitudes toward female sexuality in Western culture:
“Show me how you pleasure yourself.”What? I frown.“Don’t be coy, Ana, show me,” he whispers.I shake my head.“I don’t know what you mean.” My voice is hoarse. I hardly recognize it, laced with desire.“How do you make yourself come? I want to see.”I shake my head.“I don’t,” I mumble. He raises his eyebrows, astonished for a moment, and his eyes darken, and he shakes his head in disbelief.
Okay. I get it. Ana is innocent. So innocent that at age twenty-one, she has never masturbated (except for that part in the fucking shower just a few fucking chapters ago, when she was rubbing Christian’s body wash all up on her nooni). What is the appeal here? Why do romance readers like heroines who have never orgasmed? What is the draw, fantasy wise? I cannot fathom why is it is preferable for a romance heroine to be so totally ignorant about sex that she can’t even engage in a frank dialogue with the hero about what it takes to get her off. Is ignorance really a quality we should value in our young women, on any subject? If life imitates art, are we training women to subconsciously believe that their past sexual experience sullies them in some way? What the hell. What. The. Hell.
I have completely forgotten what I was originally doing here, actually. That’s how infuriating I find that trope.
Christian decides that he’s going to try to make Ana come from playing with her nipples. I’m thinking if she’s gone her entire adult life and her teenage years without having an orgasm, just turning a hairdryer on in the next room is going to make her come, but whatever, you’re the Chedward. Of course, it works, and really quickly, and suddenly Ana understands what’s so great about sex.
Then Chedward apparently puts a hole in her panties:
His hand moves down my waist, to my hips, and then cups me, intimately… Jeez. His finger slips through the fine lace and slowly circles around me – there.
Can you vague that up for me? There where? The lace? Did his finger rip through the panties? That’s what it sounds like. Oh well, he’s rich, he can buy more, right? Finally, we get THE BIG REVEAL. And it really is big. So big that, like every romance heroine ever, Ana wonders how it will fit. And then. It happens.
“I’m going to fuck you now, Miss Steele,” he murmurs as he positions the head of his erection at the entrance of my sex. “Hard,” he whispers, and he slams into me.
“Argh!” I cry as I feel a weird pinching sensation deep inside me as he rips through my virginity.
There you have it. At age twenty-one and a lifetime of clumsiness, Ana is still, unbelievably, factory-sealed, and breaking the seal
voids the warranty turns her into a pirate. Please note how the author keeps with romance novel tradition by having the hymen situated way up in there. That’s a proud and noble tradition, steeped in total refusal of how the female body works.
The rest of the sex is pretty standard. They finish, he asks if he hurt her, and this is how she describes sex in her inner monologue:
Two orgasms… coming apart at the seams, like the spin cycle on a washing machine, wow.
All over America, the frustrated housewives the Today Show claims are loving this book just nodded sagely and winked at their washing machines. Now that Ana has sailed the high seas of love, she’s ready to go a-pirating again. This time they’ll take off her bra and his shirt. Who fucks with their shirt on? That’s weird enough that it must be for a reason, because he doesn’t take it off. I’m betting the arm of his parasitic twin is under there. This time, he takes her from behind, and it’s still a pretty tame scene, again, but not without the requisite creepy stalker talk that Christian has honed to a needle-sharp point:
“I want you sore, baby,” he murmurs, and he continues his sweet, leisurely torment, backward, forward.“Every time you move tomorrow, I want you to be reminded that I’ve been here. Only me. You are mine.”
Even this isn’t that unusual for a romance novel. It’s usually the moment the Alpha hero becomes a creepy dickwad. Sometimes, authors make weird choices with their punctuation in sex scenes. I once read an erotica where the heroine… spoke… all… her… dialogue… with… ellipses… such… was… her… passion, and I thought she needed her inhaler. In this book, Christian has a habit of speaking with too many full stops, like a badly interpreted telegraph:
“You. Are. So. Sweet,” he murmurs between each thrust. “I. Want. You. So. Much.” I moan.
“You. Are. Mine. Come for me, baby,” he growls.
It’s like she’s trying to hit every single cliche in every sex scene ever, and cram them into one scene. And of course, all it takes is that magic, “come for me” to make her sproing like an over-wound watch. The pleasure is all too much, and she passes out the second he’s done. When she wakes up, it’s dark and Christian is gone. She hears piano… oh, come the fuck on. Really? Do we have to do the Edward/Bella piano playing scene?
She hears “The lilting notes of the piano, a sad, sweet lament. Bach, I think, but I’m not sure,” and goes to investigate.
Christian is at the piano, completely lost in the music he’s playing. His expression is sad and forlorn, like the music. His playing is stunning. Leaning against the wall at the entrance, I listen enraptured. He’s such an accomplished musician. He sits naked, his body bathed in the warm light cast by a solitary freestanding lamp beside the piano. With the rest of the large room in darkness, it’s like he’s in his own isolated little pool of light, untouchable… lonely, in a bubble.
He’s actually not naked, he’s wearing PJ pants that hang from his hips IN THAT WAY, and he orders Ana to go back to bed, because she has a busy day of pirating in the morning. He’s shirtless, and when Ana tries to touch him, he backs away and goes to immediately put on a t-shirt, so yeah, he’s hiding a parasitic baby arm. At the close of the chapter, Ana realizes that Christian has a “sad side”, which, you know, doesn’t everybody?
I’m kind of disappointed. The sex was pretty standard. I’m hoping we get to the freaky stuff soon, because I don’t know how much more of this non-freaky stuff I can take.
That’s all from me for this week. See you back here on Monday, bright and early (and hopefully on time, not delayed by substance abuse or the fact that I dreamed I got up with the alarm clock but in reality only just turned the alarm off in my sleep). Oh, but one last thing. Remember that asterisk way up at the top? I wasn’t joking about this book being a finalist in the romance category for the Good Reads people’s choice award. It really, truly was. That happened.